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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

General audience: the family, conduit of faith

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – The family as the conduit of faith was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during September's first general audience.

Francis remarked first that Jesus, both in His words and His signs, frequently presented family bonds as an example of our relationship with God. These bonds “within the experience of faith and God's love, are transformed and acquire a higher meaning, and are able to go beyond themselves, to create a broader paternity and maternity, and to welcome as brothers and sisters those who are at the margins”. To this purpose, the bishop of Rome cited the Gospel passage in which Jesus responded to those who said that His mother and brothers were seeking him outside: “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother”.

“The wisdom of affections that cannot be bought or sold is the finest quality of the family. It is precisely in the family that we learn to grow in that atmosphere of emotional wisdom. … When family affections are allowed to be converted by the witness of the Gospel, they become capable of unimaginable things, the actions that God works in history, like those that Jesus achieves for the men, women and children he encounters. A smile miraculously snatched from the despair of an abandoned child, who starts to live again, explains to us God's work in the world better than a thousand theological treatises. One man and one woman, capable of risking and making sacrifices for the child of others and not only their own, tell us things about love that scientists are not able to understand”.

“The family that responds to Jesus' call restores the rule of the world to the alliance of man and woman with God”, Francis emphasised. “Let us imagine that the helm of history (of society, the economy, politics) is finally passed to the alliance between man and woman, so that they might govern with a view to the generation to come. The themes of the earth and the home, the economy and work, would play a very different tune!”

“Effectively, the alliance between the family and God is called upon to oppose to the community desertification of the modern city. But our cities have been desertified through a lack of love, a lack of smiles. There is so much entertainment, so many things to pass the time, to make us laugh, but there is a lack of love. The smile of a family is able to conquer this desertification of our cities. And this is the victory of family love”.

“No form of economic or political engineering is able to substitute the contribution families make”, he concluded. “The project of Babel builds lifeless skyscrapers. The Spirit of God, instead, makes deserts bloom. We must leave the towers and strongholds of the elites, in order to frequent once more the homes and open spaces of the multitudes, open to the love of the family”.

May the world never experience again the horrors of World War

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – After today's catechesis the Pope launched a new appeal for peace, on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

“During these days, also in the Middle East, we commemorate the end of the Second World War”, he said. “I renew my heartfelt prayers to the Lord of all so that, by the intercession of Our Lady, today's world may never again experience the horrors and the appalling suffering of similar tragedies. But it experiences them! This is also the enduring desire of all peoples, especially those who are victims of the various current bloody conflicts. Persecuted minorities, persecuted Christians, the madness of destruction, and then those who produce and deal in arms, weapons soaked with the blood of so many innocent people. No more war! It is the fervent cry that, from our hearts and from the hearts of all men and women of good will, rises up to the Prince of peace”.

The Pope presides at the liturgy of the first Day for the Care of Creation

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica the Holy Father presided at the liturgy for the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, instituted by the Pope on 10 August and which will from now on be celebrated by the Catholic Church on 1 September, as in the Orthodox Church. Numerous pilgrims and representatives of the Roman Curia participated in the liturgy, and many people and communities throughout the world have responded to the Pope's appeal to renew our vocation as custodians of creation.

The homily was pronounced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household. After citing the biblical sources, from Genesis to the Book of Psalms, which describe the relationship between the human being and the world created by God, Fr. Cantalamessa went on to focus on the figure of St. Francis of Assisi and his “Canticle of the Creatures”, which the Pope chose as the basis for his encyclical “Laudato si'”,

“The saint's words, which define the sun as beautiful, the brother fire as beautiful, the stars as bright and beautiful, are an echo of that 'And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good', from the account of creation”, he commented. “The fundamental sin against creation, that precedes all others, is not listening to His voice, condemning it irretrievably, as St. Paul would say, to vanity, to insignificance. … Francis shows us the way to a radical change in our relationship with creation: it consists of substituting possession with contemplation. He describes a different way of enjoying its fruits, which is contemplating them instead of possessing them”.

“Certainly, Francis did not have a global and worldwide vision of the ecological problem, but rather a local, immediate view”, he added. “He thought about what he and, eventually, his brother friars, could do. Here too, however, he teaches us. A slogan currently in vogue is 'think globally, act locally'. What is the point in taking issue with those who pollute the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests, if we do not hesitate in throwing onto a riverbank or into the sea a plastic bag that will remain there for centuries if no-one retrieves it; if I throw away what I no longer want wherever I wish, on the streets or in the forest; or if I deface the walls of my city?”.

“The protection of creation, like peace, is 'handcrafted', as our Holy Father would say, starting with ourselves”, he concluded. “Peace begins with you, as is often repeated in the messages for World Day of Peace; similarly, the protection of creation begins with you. It was what an Orthodox representative affirmed during the ecumenical assembly in Basel in 1989 on 'Justice, peace and the protection of creation'. “Without a change in the human heart, environmentalism has no hope of success”.

Activities of the Holy Father and the Holy See during the month of August

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – The following is a list of Pope Francis' activities during the month of August. It includes Angelus audiences, other pontifical acts, telegrams, messages and other news. The activities are presented in chronological order under the respective titles:


6. The Pope returns to his reflections on the family and refers to the situation of those who, following the breakdown of their marriage, establish a new cohabitation, and the pastoral attention they require. The Church, he says, knows that this situation contradicts the Christian sacrament, but with a mother's heart she seeks the good and the salvation of all, without exception.

12. The Holy Father begins a series of reflections on three aspects of family life: rest, work and prayer, starting with the first. The divine commandment to pause in our daily tasks reminds us that man, as the image of God, is a master rather than a slave to work. He urges us to free ourselves of our obsession with economic gain, which undermines human rhythms of life and denies us the time for what is truly important.

19. Francis speaks about work and the family. The management of work, he says, requires a great social responsibility that cannot be left to the mercy of the logic of profit or of a deified market, in which frequently the family is regarded as a burden or an obstacle to productivity.

26. The Pope dedicates his catechesis to prayer in the family and reiterates that, despite the difficulties of finding time in family life, always busy and with many things to do, prayer enables the family to find the peace to face necessary things, and to discover the joy of the Lord's unexpected gifts, the beauty of rest and the serenity of work.


2. In the first Angelus of August, the Pope recalled that Jesus speaks of going far beyond the immediate satisfaction of material necessities and instead invites the faithful to satisfy instead their “hunger for life”, the hunger for eternity that only the Lord is able to satiate, as He is the “bread of life”.

9. Following the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus explains to the people the meaning of this sign and takes as a starting point the experience of hunger and the symbol of bread to reveal Himself to the people and invite them to believe in Him. “In His flesh, that is, in his concrete humanity, all God's love is present, which is the Holy Spirit. Those who allow themselves to be attracted by this love go towards Jesus and towards faith, and receive from Him eternal life”.

After the Angelus prayer the Pope mentioned that sixty years ago, on 6 and 9 August 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a tragic event that urges us to pray for peace. He also expressed his concerns regarding the economic crisis in El Salvador, which has increased the suffering of the population.

15. On the Solemnity of the Assumption, Francis emphasised that that great things the Almighty realised in Mary speak to us of our journey in life and remind us of our destination. Following the Marian prayer, he invited the faithful to pray for the inhabitants of the city of Tianjin in northern China, where a series of explosions in the industrial zone claimed many victims and caused significant damage.

16. Francis devoted the Angelus of the third Sunday of August to the Gospel of John the Evangelist that presents Jesus as the living bread from heaven, and explains the purpose of Mass, emphasising that the Eucharist is a memorial, or rather a gesture that makes real and present the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

23. The Pope concludes the reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, which ends with the discourse on the bread of life, pronounced by Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. The enthusiasm of the multitude wanes as His words on His flesh and blood as food and drink, alluding to His imminent sacrifice are judged unworthy of the Messiah. Jesus' words, says Francis, always challenge us; in relation, for instance, to the spirit of the world and of worldliness.

On the eve of the national holiday in Ukraine, Peter's Successor launched a fresh appeal for peace in the country, afflicted for some months by a conflict that has worsened in recent weeks.

30. Superficial adherence to the law is not enough for good Christians, Francis emphasised, commenting on the Gospel of St. Mark which describes the dispute between Jesus and various Pharisees. We run the risk, he states, of considering ourselves to be better than others for the mere fact of following rules and customs, even if we love our neighbour. The literal fulfilment of precepts is fruitless if it does not change our heart and does not translate into concrete acts: opening ourselves up to the encounter with God and His Word, seeking justice and peace, and assisting the poor, the weak and the oppressed”.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned that yesterday in Harissa, Lebanon, the Syro-Catholic bishop Flaviano Michele Melki, martyred during a terrible persecution of Christians, was declared blessed. “Today too, in the Middle East and in other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. May the beatification of this bishop martyr instil in them comfort, courage and hope”.

Finally, he denounced the tragic humanitarian crisis of migrants, many of whom recently lost their lives in Austria and in the Mediterranean, and he underlined the need to prevent these crimes, an affront to the entire human family.


4. Publication of the letter, written in Latin and dated 21 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, archbishop emeritus of Quito, Ecuador, as his special envoy in the Tenth National Eucharistic Congress of Peru (Piura, 13-16 August).

6. Publication of the Pope's letter to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, dated 25 July, in which the latter is appointed as papal legate to the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (15 August).

The Holy Father writes to Bishop Maroun Lahham, auxiliary of Jerusalem of the Latins and patriarchal vicar for Jordan, on the situation faced by refugees from these countries.

7. Publication of the letter, dated 2 June, in which Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, as his special envoy to the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Cathedral of Strasbourg, France (15 August).

8. Publication of the letter, dated 20 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the celebration of the third centenary of the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles held in Sinj, Croatia (15 August).

10. Message to Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Vallidolid, Spain, and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, for the European Youth Meeting (Avila, 5-9 August) on the theme “In troubled times, strong friends of God”, commemorating the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.

With a letter to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pope institutes the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

18. Telegram of condolences to Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, for the death on 17 August of Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese.

19. Message to Brother Alois and the Taize Community for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Community on 20 August, in the year of the centenary of the birth of founder Brother Roger Schutz and the tenth anniversary of his death.

Message to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini for the 36th Meeting for friendship between peoples, held in Rimini from 20 to 26 August.

20. Telegram from Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the Holy Father, to His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, following the terrorist attacks on the Hindu Erawan shrine and the Sathorn district of Bangkok.

22. Publication of the letter, dated 25 July, in which the Holy Father designates Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, as his special envoy to the Mass in Bobbio, Italy on 30 August for the 18th International Meeting of Columbanian Communities, on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columbanus.

23. Message to Bishop Pier Giorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo, Italy, on the occasion of the Synod of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches, in Torre Pellice, Italy, from 23 to 28 August.

29. Publication of the letter dated 11 July in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago del Chile, Chile, as his special envoy to the Sixth National Eucharistic Conference of Mexico (Monterrey, 9-13 September).


1: The Holy Father appoints Msgr. Alberto Ortega as apostolic nuncio in Jordan and Iraq, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop.

He also appoints Professor Alfredo Pontecorvi director of the Department of Health and Hygiene of the Governorate of Vatican City State. The new director is professor of Endocrinology and director of the School of Specialisation in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital.

4. Bishop Fernando Jose Castro Aguayo, auxiliary of Caracas, Venezuela, is appointed as bishop of Margarita in Venezuela.

6. The Pope accepts the resignation of Bishop Joseph Kunnath, C.M.I., from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Adilabad of the Syro-Malabars, India. Bishop Kunnath is succeeded by Fr. Anthony Prince Panengaden, former protosyncellus and parish priest in the same eparchy.

He erects the apostolic exarchate for the Syro-Malabars in Canada and appoints Fr. Jose Kalluvelil as the first exarch, elevating him to the dignity of bishop.

8. Appointment of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France, as the Holy Father's special envoy to the consecration of the new cathedral of the diocese of Creteil, France, to be held on 20 September 2015.

The Pope appoints Professor Fabrizio Soccorsi, former head physician of hepatology at San Camillo Hospital, Rome, as his personal doctor.

10. The Holy Father appoints Fr. Juan Carlos Bravo Salazar, parish priest of Nuestra Senora de Belen en Guasipati, as bishop of Acarigua-Araure, Venezuela.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., is appointed as the Holy Father's special envoy to the ceremony for the 450th anniversary of the first founding mass of the city of St. Augustine, Florida, U.S.A.

14. The Holy Father appoints Fr. Paolo Bizzetti, S.J., as apostolic vicar in Anatolia, Turkey, elevating him to episcopal rank. The new apostolic vicar was formerly rector of the Patavina Residentia Antonianum.

15. The Pope appoints Bishop Michael Didi Adgum of El Obeid, Sudan, as coadjutor archbishop of Jartum, Sudan, and apostolic administrator of El Obeid.

22. Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay, is appointed as the Holy Father's special envoy to the Fifth Eucharistic Congress of Bolivia (Traija, 16-20 September).

The Pope appoints Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” as his special envoy to the concluding ceremony of the First National Eucharistic Congress of the Czech Republic (Brno, 17 October).

24. The Holy Father accepts the resignation presented by Bishop Gilberto Delio Goncalves Canavarro dos Reis from the pastoral ministry of the diocese of Setubal, Portugal, upon reaching the age limit, and appoints Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, S.C.I., superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians) as the new bishop of Setubal.

26. The Holy Father extended the eparchy of Mandya of the Syro-Malabars, India, to include the six civil districts around Bangalore in which Syro-Malabar faithful are resident: Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Chickballapur, Kolar, Ramnagara and Tumkur.

The Pope gave his assent to the election by the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church of Fr. Antony Kariyil C.M.I., former director of the Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology, Cochin, India, as eparchal vicar of Mandya of the Syro-Malabars.

28. Appointment of Fr. Jean-Pierre Cottanceau, S.S.C.C., as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Papeete, French Polynesia.


5. Audience with the ambassador of Nigeria, Francis Chukwuemeka Okeke, on his farewell visit.

7. The Pope receives in the Paul VI Hall the members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement.

8. Audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which Pope Francis authorises the promulgation of the decree regarding the martyrdom of Servant of God Flaviano Miguel Melki, born in 1858 in Kalaat Mara, present-day Turkey, and bishop of Gazireth of the Syrians, killed in hatred of the faith in Gazireth, present-day Turkey, in 1915.

12. Audience with the ambassador of Hungary, Gabor Gyorivanyi, on his farewell visit.

29. Audience with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

31. The Pope receives in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy;

- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, Italy;

- Archbishop Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea;

- Archbishop Rino Passigato, apostolic nuncio in Portugal;

- Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, apostolic nuncio in Colombia;

- Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio in Belgium and Luxembourg;

- Fr. Pascal Burri, chaplain of the Swiss Guard Corps, on his farewell visit.


4. The Pope meets with several thousand altar servers from more than twenty countries, participating in an international pilgrimage to Rome on the theme “Here I am! Send me”.

11. The Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” makes public the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the 49th World Day of Peace (1 January 2016): “Overcome indifference and win peace”.

20. The Holy Father chooses the theme for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees (17 January 2016): “Migrants and refugees challenge us. The response of the Gospel of Mercy”.


14. The Holy See and the Democratic Republic of East Timor sign an agreement defining the legal status of the Catholic Church and regulating various matters including Catholic marriage, places of worship, religious education.

28. Press release regarding the raising of flags of Observer States in the central headquarters and offices of the United Nations.

28. The Holy See Press Office issues a communique on the death at home, by natural causes, of Msgr. Josef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio.

29. The Holy See Press Office announces that, following the death of former nuncio Josef Wesolowski in the evening of 27 August, the Office of the Promoter of Justice, in the fulfilment of its required functions, has ordered that a post-mortem examination take place, and has appointed a commission of three experts to perform the task, coordinated by the Giovanni Arcudi, professor of forensic medicine. The first conclusions of the autopsy, carried out in the afternoon of 28 August, confirm the natural cause of death, due to cardiac failure. In the forthcoming days, the Office of the Promoter of Justice will obtain the results of the laboratory tests performed by the Commission.

30. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sends a letter on behalf of the Holy Father to Bishop Gianni Ambrosio of Piacenza-Bobbio, Italy, on the occasion of the 18th International Meeting of the Columbanian Communities on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columbanus.
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